Pedicle Screw Systems As An Aid in the Surgical Cure of Spinal Disorders
In certain types of spinal surgery, pedicle screws are an essential tool for strength and stability. Traditionally used in spinal fusion, these screws can prevent motion in the injured vertebrae as they heal.
However, with many patients now seeking minimally-invasive alternatives to conventional spinal fusion, a wider range of pedicle screw systems is now available. In this article, we’ll cover how pedicle screw systems are used to cure spinal disorders and discuss the minimally-invasive options that are now accessible to patients.
What Are Pedicle Screws?
A pedicle screw is a type of spinal implant. It’s typically used in spinal fusion to help reinforce and stabilize the affected vertebrae as they fuse and heal.
Traditionally, pedicle screws are positioned on top of and below the fused vertebrae, and the surgeon utilizes a rod to link the screws. Together, the rod and the pedicle screws inhibit spinal motion as the bone graft heals.
Once the bone graft completely heals after spinal fusion, the pedicle screws and rods aren’t required for stability. In some cases, the surgeon may recommend removing the screws and rods with another surgical procedure. However, this is uncommon, and the implants are typically left alone.
What Are Pedicles?
Pedicle screws get their name from the fact that the screws are secured to the pedicles of the spine. The pedicles are located on the back of the vertebrae, and each vertebra has two pedicles. These bony projections protect the spinal nerves and spinal cord while connecting the back and front portions of the vertebrae.
What Spinal Disorders Are Pedicle Screws Used To Treat?
Pedicle screws are used for support in the surgical treatment of various spinal disorders, including:
Spinal stenosis is a disorder that develops when the space in the spinal canal becomes constricted. With less open space in the spinal canal, the spinal cord and nerves can become irritated and compressed.
If spinal stenosis puts pressure on the spinal nerves, patients may experience symptoms including:
- Persistent back pain
- An aching or burning pain that travels from the back to the buttocks and down the legs
- Pain that improves when patients lean forward and worsen with prolonged periods of walking or standing
- Cramping, weakness, tingling, and/or numbness in the lower extremities (for lumbar spinal stenosis) or upper extremities (for cervical spinal stenosis)
Spinal stenosis is frequently caused by osteoarthritis. With osteoarthritis, wear and tear on the cartilage that protects the joints, including the joints in the spine, causes pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can lead to bone spur development in the spine, which may, in turn, cause spinal stenosis.
Other possible causes of spinal stenosis include herniated discs, spinal fractures, thickened spinal ligaments, and genetic factors.
Spondylolisthesis develops as a result of instability in the spine. With this condition, the vertebrae move excessively, causing one vertebra to slip out of position.
With spondylolisthesis, the vertebra that becomes displaced typically settles on the bone directly below it. The misalignment of the vertebrae can compress nearby nerves, possibly leading to symptoms including:
- Stiffness in the back
- Pain while bending forward
- Hamstring muscle spasms
- Neurological symptoms in the foot
Spondylolisthesis may be triggered by genetic factors, age-related spinal degeneration, and/or sports injuries.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that’s caused by gradual wear and tear on the discs in between the spinal bones. These discs cushion the vertebrae and shield them from impact. So, when disc degeneration occurs, the following symptoms can result:
- Back and/or neck pain
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness in the legs or arms
- Sciatica (nerve pain that radiates from the back to the buttocks and down the legs
- Pain that gets worse with bending, lifting, or remaining seated
The intervertebral discs naturally dry out and become thinner with age. If this leads to a crack in the exterior of a disc, a herniated disc can occur.
A herniated disc, (which is also called a slipped, ruptured, or bulging disc), happens as a result of spinal disc damage. If the exterior layer of the disc becomes damaged, the jelly-like disc interior can press through the crack. The protruding disc interior can then press on close-by spinal nerves, causing pain and neurological symptoms.
Pedicle Screws in Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery
Conventionally, spinal fusion isn’t a minimally-invasive procedure. However, many patients are seeking minimally-invasive alternatives to traditional spinal surgery for a shorter recovery period, less scarring, less postoperative pain, and less time spent in the hospital.
With advances in medical technology, spinal implant systems can now provide the stability of fusion with a less invasive procedure. ProMIS™ System Implants are an example of a spinal device system that can facilitate minimally-invasive spinal surgery.
The Premia Spine ProMIS™ System provides several benefits over traditional spinal fusion. For one, this pedicle screw system has multiple features that aren’t found with conventional screws. Along with the TOPS™ spinal implant, which stabilizes the spine without requiring fusion, the ProMIS™ System can enhance the results of spinal decompression surgery.
The benefits of the Premia Spine MIS pedicle screw system include:
- Treated screw surface
Pedicle screws from the ProMIS™ System feature a screw surface that’s been treated with calcium phosphate. This treatment passivates the screw, giving it a rough surface with cuts and crevices. As a result, the screw surface is increased and bony ingrowth is improved.
- Sterile double blister packaging
Premia Spine’s pedicle screws are protected with sterile double blister packaging. This prevents cross-contamination and reduces the risk of infection, implant damage, and deterioration.
- Advanced screw design
Premia’s pedicle screw system features a screw design with a conical shape and constant shaft diameter. Distal Concial Cancellous Threads facilitate an enhanced bite in the vertebrae; Proximal Cortical Threads provide an improved bite in the pedicle.
Pedicle screws have long been successfully used to surgically treat spinal disorders. However, with the pedicle screw system market shifting toward minimally invasive options, solutions like the ProMIS™ System are gaining greater prominence.
If you’re considering spinal surgery to resolve chronic back pain, consider talking to your doctor about minimally-invasive pedicle screw systems.